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12" 1970s 33 rpm Comedy Folk LP World music

Tough love

The Beatles throw a long shadow, such that other parts of the rich musical tradition of Liverpool can get a bit lost. Like many other ports and industrial centres, Liverpool drew waves of migrants in search of work. Each community brought their own music, and the result was a melting pot of influences from all […]

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12" 1970s 33 rpm Compilations Folk LP World music

When the boat comes in

If you were around in the 1970s you are likely to remember When the Boat Comes In, a television drama set in a working-class British town in the years after the First World War. It was a drama about disillusion. The men who returned from “the war to end all wars” struggled to deal with […]

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12" 1950s 33 rpm Compilations Gospel LP

C-grade Christian

Johnny Cash sometimes described himself as a “C+ Christian”. Robert Hilburn, in his wonderful biography of Cash, observes: Most thought this American icon was just being humble. To those who’d been close to him at various points, it appeared he was being a bit generous with his evaluation. But there was  no question Cash believed. […]

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12" 1970s 33 rpm Compilations LP Rock

Pelted with bourbon bottles

To dare question the might and majesty of AC/DC in Australia is to risk being pelted to death with empty bourbon bottles. They are an iconic, much-loved band, titans of popular music. They are Australia’s most successful international act, for decades. Not just success: AC/DC has street cred as well. They have a lane-way in […]

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12" 1960s 33 rpm Country LP

First Australian country singer on the Moon

Reg Lindsay was one of the giants of Australian country music. Unlike a great many country singers, in his day, he was a real stockman (which is what we call a cowboy, in these here parts). He only thought about a musical career after being injured while riding a bull at a rodeo. While convalescing, […]

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12" 1960s 33 rpm Classical LP

The lover writes

There was a man, a German soldier. It was the First World War, and he had been captured by the army of Tsarist Russia. Then there was a revolution, and the Tsar was overthrown. Then there was a civil war. All the while the man remained a prisoner, in Siberia. But a Russian woman fell […]

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12" 1900-1920 33 rpm Classical LP

Cow bells

Richard Strauss. Heard of him? Somehow, I got it into my head that there was a Strauss family, headed by Johann Strauss, he of “The Blue Danube” and many another waltz. And that Johann was the genius, and Richard the honest trier. A worthy but lesser Strauss, like Leopold Mozart, or Hank Williams Jr, or […]

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12" 45 rpm Dance Millenial

Jungle king

If the highest purpose of music writing is to make the reader open up to music which has not previously had much appeal, then the best music writing I have ever encountered appears in a sci-fi novel about a giant rat with magical powers. China Mieville is an endlessly inventive writer of imagined worlds, inhabited […]

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12" 1960s 33 rpm LP Pop

Those Rambunctious Monkees

They are the Pinocchio of pop music, The Monkees. The four members were brought together by the producer of a television show. They were hired as actors, to play the roles of members of a fictional band. The show, and the music in it, became enormously popular. In the late 1960s they were seriously likened […]

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12" 1980s 33 rpm Compilations LP World music

Distributed in health-food stores

Back in the 1980s, there was a thing called “New Age”. It was a not-quite-religion, a mish-mash of spiritual practices and beliefs all broadly rejecting materialism and suggesting people slow down. Sort of Buddhism-lite, for prosperous Californians. It was a bit self-centred – long on attending health spas and short on volunteering at soup kitchens […]